For the last while, we've been talking about how to get the kids away from the adults who like to... you know-- get in there and fix everything so the kids can't. Which, as cool as kids think that is in real life, isn't so awesome in books. Kids love to see kids doing the fixing. So far, we've talked about a lot of different ways to get the kids separated from the adults around them. We've talked about the Orphan, the Absent / Busy / Bad Parent, the Capable Parent / Capable Child, the Sibling as Parent, and the Parents who are Missing Entirely.
Today, let's talk about the family who is actually there with the protag!
Present Family, but Adventures Lie Within Range of Normal
Generally a traditional family dynamic, where the family spends time together and is fairly functional. Most issues they run into are issues very normal kids would encounter. (And "traditional family dynamic" doesn't mean it has to be a mom and dad as the parents. It can any parent / guardian type. The big thing is that they are around, usually with siblings (or even cousins) in the mix, and that a lot of the issues or problems happen at home and with other family members involved.)
I'm going to go with some kid TV shows here, because they are fantastic examples of the present family / normal adventures method.
In all three of these examples, the kids live with the parents, and a good portion of the time, they are at home. The rest of the time, they're at school or places nearby their home, usually with siblings there, too.
- This type works really great for contemporary books, and is instantly relatable to kids.
- Since the parent(s) are actually around, you can include more conflict / interactions with them than you can with other stories where you are trying to separate them more. The kids still have to be the ones to solve their own problems, but they do get more input on how to do that from the other members of the family.
- There's more history, depth of motivation, and consequence when the parent(s) / guardians are present.
- You generally can't have very big adventures or problems. And by "big," I mean big in reference to location (how far from home the story takes place) or breadth (so no saving the world :)). You can definitely go big in regards to the depth, though (or how serious the issues are).